Weekly News 4 – 8 June 2018 | Mediterranean Affairs


Monday, 4 June 2018

Morocco: Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Moroccan authorities of using excessive force against protesters in the eastern city of Jerada, following months of demonstrations over economic hardship.
The rights group denounced the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force in a new report released on Monday after a series of protests that began after two brothers accidentally died inside a coal pit they were mining illegally in December 2017. (Al Jazeera)

Israel: On Sunday Israel launched a series of air raids on Palestinian positions in the besieged Gaza Strip, in what it said was in response to rocket fire from the enclave.
Israeli warplanes hit at least 15 targets belonging to Hamas’ armed wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, the Israeli military said early on Sunday.
There were no reports of injuries.
The attacks targeted at least three Hamas compounds in the northern part of the strip. There was no immediate comment from Hamas on the attacks. (Al Jazeera)

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

France: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was met by scores of protesters calling for him to be tried as a war criminal on Tuesday at the Paris stop of his tour of European capitals.The official objective of Netanyahu’s visit was to rally French President Emmanuel Macron’s support against Iran, as well as inaugurate a joint French-Israeli cultural and scientific project.
On the streets, however, the focus was firmly on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people and the Israeli army’s actions at the Gaza border.  (Al Jazeera)

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Israel: Israel’s prime minister is touring Europe to drum up support against Iran.
After visiting Germany, Benjamin Netanyahu flew to France in an attempt to get European countries to join the United States in withdrawing from the landmark nuclear deal. (Al Jazeera)

Iran: Iran says it has begun work on increasing its uranium enrichment capacity, in case its 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers collapses. President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal with Iran last month. European powers are now scrambling to salvage the nuclear agreement, which imposes restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for lifting sanctions. (BBC)

Iraq: Iraq’s parliament has voted to carry out a manual recount of votes cast in last month’s legislative elections, amid allegations of widespread fraud. MPs also replaced the leadership of the election commission and annulled the votes of overseas and displaced Iraqis.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi warned that security agencies had evidence of “unprecedented” violations.
He said the main issue was with the electronic vote-counting machines that were used for the first time on 12 May. It is unclear whether Wednesday’s vote will affect the outcome of the election. (BBC)

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Spain: Spain’s King Felipe VI swore in the country’s new government ministers on Thursday, ushering in a Cabinet with the highest proportion of women out of any administration in Europe.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’ cabinet has women leading 11 out of 17 ministries, including in roles such as deputy prime minister, finance minister and defense minister. The number is a record high for Spain.
The percentage of female ministers is also higher than in several other governments, such as Canada, France and Sweden, whose leaders have avowed commitments to gender equality. (The Huffington Post)

Israel: Israel has accused Iran of fuelling recent violence on the Gaza border that has seen more than 100 Palestinians killed amid protests against Israel. Israeli military aircraft dropped leaflets on Gaza on Thursday, warning Palestinians not to approach the border fence for their own safety. The leaflets urged people not to become “a tool” of the militant group Hamas, which dominates Gaza, alleging that its agenda was driven by Iran. (BBC)

Iraq: At least 17 people have been killed and 80 wounded by explosions that destroyed a mosque in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, medical sources say. The government said the blasts on Wednesday night were the result of the detonation of an ammunition cache in the Shia Muslim district of Sadr City. It did not give an exact location of the cache, but some security officials said it was inside the mosque. The mosque was used by supporters of the Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr. A police source told AFP news agency that the ammunition cache had belonged to an armed group and contained rocket-propelled grenades and shells. (BBC) 

Friday, 8 June 2018

Austria: Austria has said it will close down seven mosques and expel imams who it says are funded by foreign countries.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the move was a crackdown on political Islam.
Some mosques are suspected of having links to Turkish nationalists. In April images emerged showing children in Turkish army uniforms re-enacting the World War One Battle of Gallipoli.
The Turkish president’s office called Austria’s move “Islamophobic, racist and discriminatory”. (BBC)

Spain: Spain’s new Socialist government said on Friday it would lift financial controls on Catalonia as a “gesture of normalisation” towards the separatist-minded region, but insisted an independence referendum was still “out of the question.”
Education minister and government spokeswoman Isabel Celaa said that banks would be “instructed to allow the government of Catalonia to make payments” without the supervision of Spain’s finance ministry.
The financial controls had been put in place by the previous conservative government of Mariano Rajoy. But from now on, the Catalan government will simply have to provide a monthly spending report to the central government.(The Local es)

Palestine: Israeli troops fired live rounds and tear gas as thousands of Palestinians protested near the Gaza border fence Friday, and at least four demonstrators were killed, including a teenage boy, with over 600 wounded, Gaza health officials said. The march coincided with the annual “Jerusalem Day,” instituted by Iran to protest Israeli rule of the holy city. (The Washington Post)